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Friday, January 19, 2007

Psychological Aspirin

When it comes to sure cures for your most common ailments, aspirin fills the bill. Lately, besides clearing your headache and reducing your fever, its been discovered to do a lot more. Taken daily, it can reduce your chances for heart disease, and help prevent cancer and strokes. The problem however is that aspirin is cheap, unexotic, and not patented. Because there is no money in it, there is no marketing budget for it either, save for word of mouth from your friendly physician and press.

But the folks who do have the marketing budget are the pharmaceutical companies, and they would like to share with you a better idea, namely drugs such as statins or beta-blockers that pretty much do the same job as our little white pill, but give you a healthy heart in exchange for a proverbial arm and a leg. Luckily, most of us keep our own counsel, and our medicine, and take an aspirin a day to keep not only the doctor but the drugstore bill away.

For our mental health, we are also lucky to have simple time tested cures. We've always known that a challenging and productive life style will keep us alert and our minds fit and capable. In addition, we know the power of words, and use them appropriately to sooth and inspire troubled minds, whether they be ourselves or others. We've also known that setting aside a time where we can be alone and away from distractions will reduce stress and produce a calming relaxation. But what we have not known is how these methods systematically work to change our behavior and our minds.

Unfortunately, instead of big pharma, we have big psychology, that accedes to the power of these simple methods, but assures you that for best results they need the expensive packaging of psychotherapy or the mystical patina of religion. Big psychology is fully on parade in Sharon Begley's new book 'Train your mind: change your brain: how a new science reveals our extraordinary power to transform ourselves'. She demonstrates well how these cures literally change the structure of the brain and cause emotional transformation, but directs us throughout to patented rather than common sense sources who have their own snake oil to sell. So, the psychological aspirin of reason and rest become psychotherapy and meditation, which of course are available for a fee from a psychotherapist or guru near you.

But for me, and I would gather most of us, the standard psychological aspirin will do just fine. To bad it doesn't have a marketing budget. For my own take on the psychological aspirin of rest and the psychological Excedrin of meditation and the like, you may venture forth here.

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